Sliced and diced, the best of British Charcuterie reaps awards

The best of British cured, fermented, finely sliced, expertly prepared meats has been put to the test and the best rewarded in the increasingly influential British Charcuterie Awards. Created in 2017 and organised by food events maven Henrietta Green, the awards seek to reward and educate both maker and consumer. Both sides of the plate gain from more attention being paid to the use of higher quality meats and ingredients through creating a vibrant community and enhancing skill levels of butchers and chefs making the finished products.

roasting meat and sausages on barbecue grid
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

Results of The British Charcuterie Live Awards 2020/21 have been released with east Suffolk-based Dingley Dell Cured named Star Award Champion of Champions Producer as the single best performing producer over a minimum of three classes for their Albion Coppa-style Iceni, a Felino style salami; Essus, a cacciatore-style hunter’s salami, and smoked dry cured back bacon products.

“To be recognised for our products will undoubtedly help us to raise awareness of what we are doing on a national level and hopefully to bring us new business,” says Dingley Dell’s co-owner Mark Hayward.

sliced raw meat on brown wooden chopping board
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Henrietta said: “In spite of the challenges British producers are undergoing as a result of the pandemic, over 100 producers entered more than 300 products into the nine classes, and our judges were struck by the exceptional quality and range of the entries”.

In selecting Dingley Dell Cured for the biggest prize of the Awards, the judges said that their Icini – Felino style sausage was, ‘like eating a great Italian salumi’.

“It’s so encouraging to see more and more producers are starting to make both British- and Continental- style charcuterie. It’s becoming a truly vibrant sector of British food production,” added Green.

British charcuterie makers are increasingly inventive and mostly not restricted by history, tradition or regional specialities but inspired to use heritage and native breeds, and plenty of game including venison and wild boar.

Of Dingley Dell’s Smoked Dry Cured Back Bacon, the judgement was: “Good-looking rashers with a very enticing caramel coloured edge from the smoking. Aroma is really good, offering up the smoke without overpowering. It is nice to get the pork flavour through which is really well balanced with the smoke – sweet and woody notes on the palate. The salt stays in the background, in a good way.”

Good looking rashers

Yorkshire Dales-based Wildman Charcuterie were recognised as makers of The Champion of Champions Product for their Longhorn Bresaola which the judges rewarding its, “lovely dark colour (and) uniformed slices, great aroma which was matched by the taste – great choice of species bringing the beef taste forward.”

Chris Wildman
(C) Studio Lambert – Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Charcuterie appreciation across Britain is also increasing with home grown expertise and the realisation that great products are once again being made locally. Whether it’s dry curing (where salt and flavourings are rubbed dry into the meat) or brine curing (meat is immersed in a highly flavoured brine), the British makers will experiment.

As judge James Robinson of Spanish food specialists Brindisa noted, it feels that over the past few years British charcuterie has seen makers push themselves harder, in part stimulated in no small part by British Charcuterie Live. “It’s an exciting time for British charcuterie producers right now as they strive to achieve the same levels of quality as experienced continental cured meat producers,” he says.

The judging crew

Judging for British Charcuterie Live Awards is carried out blind by small teams of experts and each product assessed for a number of factors including taste, mouth feel, appearance and presentation.

Led by new head judge Keith Fisher, chief executive of the Institute of Meat, the judges are charcuterie experts drawn from the meat, hospitality and retail sectors – makers, buyers, consultants, restaurateurs, chefs, plus top food writers, including chefs Adam Handling, Thom Eagle and Henry Harris; and buyers Bernadette Lalonde from Harrods, Paul Patterson from the Charcuterie Box, and Michaela Pagano from the Fine Cheese Company. A group of restaurateur judges included Roberto Costa from Marcellaio; James Allcock from the Pig & Whistle and Dan Brod from Beckford Bottle Shop.

BRITISH CHARCUTERIE AWARD WINNERS 2020/ 21

Best in Class or Star Awards  Product Name  Company
Champion of Champions Producer Dingley Dell Cured
Champion of Champions ProductLonghorn BresaolaWildman Charcuterie
Best in Class – class 1
Cured, Air-Dried & Ready-to-Eat Whole Muscle Products
Longhorn BresaolaWildman Charcuterie
Best in Class – class 2
Cured & Cooked Whole Muscle Products
Cooked ox tongueA E Chambers Ltd
Best in Class – class 3
Cured, Fermented & Air Dried Ready-to-Eat Sausage Products
Iceni – Felino style British Salami  Dingley Dell Cured  
Best in Class – class 4 Cured & Cooked Sausage ProductsNose to Tail TerrineNorth by Sudouest Charcuterie Ltd
Best in Class – class 5
Soft & Spreadable Products
Traditional Pork RilletteCornish Charcuterie
Best in Class – class 6 Cured BaconOak smoked bacon chopUptons of Bassett
Best in Class – class 7 British Regional ProductsFaggotsWenlock Edge Farm
Best in Class – class 8 “House Made” ProductsSmoked Pork Collar with mixed peppercornsKUBARN Ltd
Best in Class class 9
British Snacking Charcuterie
Ke Nako “Pain in the Hole” BiltongKe Nako Biltong
Best Black PuddingCharles Macleod Stornoway Black PuddingCharles Macleod Ltd
Best Game ProductGreen Pepper Venison SalamiGreat Glen Charcuterie
Best New ProductPork & Fennel SalamiRare & Pasture
Best Smoked ProductOak Smoked Streaky BaconWenlock Edge Farm
Best Traditional or Heritage ProductSpiced LoinSaltPig Curing Company

Bruce

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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